Going into a divorce, child support agreements can be confusing enough simply on an organizational level. After all, you are working to secure and plan for the financial future of your child or children.
It often takes a concerted effort to lay this groundwork. However, the rules can be disorienting, and the process is far from intuitive for most people. Some basic background knowledge often helps make the process less stressful.
Child support is often part of a divorce, but it is not the same thing as parenting time or custody. In fact, legal custody probably will not be a concern in your child support agreement; it is not a factor in determining who pays.
One of the most important factors is parenting time. Many people confuse parenting time with custody, mostly because the two terms occur interchangeably outside of legal writing. However, having parenting time is different than being the custodial parent. The parenting time credit — a major factor in determining support responsibilities — underlines the importance of parenting time.
Discrepancies in percentages
The purpose of the parenting time credit is not to directly represent the number of days out of the year that one parent is caring for the child. Instead, it represents the amount of relative investment. You are making in your child by spending that time.
A parent with very few overnights would probably have much lower parenting time credits. This reflects the disproportionately increased cost the other spouse would incur by having the kids for most of the year.
The parenting time credit is just one variable in the final child support agreement. Health insurance and childcare costs might also influence the final numbers.